Powerful St. Ignace won’t defend its Class D basketball title this year.
That’s because the Saints have moved up to Class C — and are a game away from winning another state title after Thursday’s 34-30 victory over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at the Breslin Center.
Moving up in class isn’t a problem for St. Ignace coach Dorene Ingalls. The Saints (24-2) have won three Class C titles under Ingalls, the last coming in 2011.
Shooting was a problem, as the winners made just 18.8% of their shots, but hauled in 59 rebounds, 28 offensive.
“Doug (Ingalls) is no longer our shooting coach,” joked Ingalls of her husband. “There are games that we’ve had, not maybe the 18% shooting. Our quarterfinal game we were 6 of 27 in the first half on lay-ups. They kept at it. We had close to 60 rebounds.”
Emily Hinsman turned the despair of missing two free throws into the joy of an offensive rebound basket with 1:37 left that gave the Saints the lead for good.
“I was going to check the basket for cellophane if that hadn’t gone in,” said Ingalls.
The victory was the 102nd of senior Kelley Wright’s career, and maybe one of the toughest. “I don’t really think about all the wins; I know I’ve lost four times,” said Wright.
After a Lola Ristovski turnover, the winners got two free throws from Margo Brown with 24.5 left to seal the victory.
Hinsman finished with 13 rebounds, one more than Abbey Ostman. St. Ignace was just 13 of 69 from the field while Liggett was 11 of 44 for 25%.
“I think some of it was nerves,” said Ristovski, who finished with just nine points as no player scored in double figures.
Neither team had much offensive success as the Saints defense shaded towards Liggett star junior guard Ristovski, the sister of former Miss Basketball Madison (Michigan) and Haleigh (Detroit Mercy) Ristovski, who both watched from the student section.
Locked in a 21-19 third-quarter struggle, the Saints took control of the game.
Wright hit a free throw and scored inside, Morgan LaVake turned a turnover into a lay-up and Jade Edelman scored her first basket of the game to propel the Saints to a 28-19 lead at the end of three.
“I thought that was a big stretch for us,” said Hinsman.
Liggett (20-4) made a run in the fourth with a lay-up by freshman Nia Ahart tying the game at 30 with 2:30 left.
“The issue for us was blocking out,” said Liggett coach Omar Ahart. “It was been a problem for us all year. We’re a small team. We try to be as scrappy as we possibly can. Those second and third chance shots put us in a hole.”